Many studies have shown that happy people live longer. One study followed nuns who wrote a short biographical sketch before taking their vows. At the age of 85, 90% of the nuns with cheerful biographies (top 25%) was still alive, compared to just 54% of the least cheerful. At 94 years of age, 54% of the most cheerful quarter were alive compared to only 11% of the least cheerful.
Another reason why happiness is important is that the link between stress and illness is very well known and well documented, as is the reverse. Happy, positive feelings change the chemical make up of our bodies, producing chemicals that enhance immunity, cell repair, and building strength. Happiness is the opposite of stress.
Many studies have shown that people who are in a positive or happy mood solve problems better and faster. Their solutions are more inventive and they concentrate better. Happiness also improves people’s ability to learn and remember things. Better problem solving is another reason why happiness is important.
Scientists theorize that our positive emotions, like happiness, serve an evolutionary purpose. Where negative emotions spur us to fight or flight by generating chemicals in our bodies, positive emotions spur us to learn, explore and grow the same way. In short, positive emotions create a completely different way of thinking in our bodies.
There is a strong link between feeling good and doing good. Not only does doing good help us feel good, but studies have shown that happy people are more willing to share their good fortune to help others than unhappy people. Happy people make the world a better place.